The failure to elect a single former player to the Baseball Hall of Fame proved that the sportswriters who cast the ballots are serious about punishing perceived users of performance-enhancing drugs, including steroids. That’s an important stand for the integrity of the game. But the results also showed just how much the inflated statistics of baseball’s steroid era served to marginalize the stars who came just before it.
Poor Dale Murphy, the Atlanta Braves outfielder, missed his last chance at election by the sportswriters this year. Murphy had once amassed the 19th-most home runs in baseball history. Now, two decades later — a span that included at least 12 years of steroid-enhanced play — Murphy ranks a distant 53rd. His 398 homers look puny compared to Barry Bonds’s heaping total of 762. Likewise, Jack Morris won more games than anyone else in the 1980s, but his 254 lifetime wins are a hundred fewer than Roger Clemens’s 354. The Hall of Fame voters appropriately stiffed Bonds and Clemens, who are widely believed to have used performance-enhancing drugs. Unfortunately, the voters stiffed Murphy and Morris, as well.